Nathaniel Abraham, killer at 11, sentenced in unrelated drug case

Nathaniel Abraham, 22, appears in 50th District Court in Pontiac on June 10.

PONTIAC — A man who spent his adolescent years in state custody for a rifle-slaying he committed at age 11 received a four-to-20-year prison sentence Monday on a drug conviction.
Nearly two years to the day that he walked out of juvenile detention as a free man, Nathaniel Abraham was ordered back behind bars for trying to sell Ecstasy out of the trunk of his car.
The 22-year-old from Pontiac was charged last year with dealing drugs after undercover officers in his hometown said they caught him selling at a gas station.
"I'm not saying I'll never make a mistake again, given the opportunity. I know I can be a success to the community," Abraham told Oakland County Circuit Judge Daniel O'Brien during Monday morning's sentencing hearing.
"A mistake is not noticing this step and tripping," O'Brien replied. "That's a mistake."
"You have the ability to say `I'm never going to commit a crime again,' because crimes require an intent," O'Brien said.
Abraham lawyer Byron Pitts said his client is sorry for what he's done.
"He's going to have a long time to think about it," Pitts said.
Abraham, who pleaded guilty in November to possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, made national headlines when he fatally shot Ronnie Greene, 18, of Pontiac on Oct. 29, 1997. The then-11-year-old was arrested two days later and convicted in November 1999 of second-degree murder.
Abraham was sentenced to juvenile detention until his 21st birthday and was released in January 2007.
At that court hearing, Abraham caused a stir by donning a flamboyant suit that some viewed as inappropriate.
"Show us all that you have become a caring, productive member of society," Oakland County Probate Judge Eugene Moore, who has been stern yet supportive of Abraham over the years, said at the time of his release.
"I know you can do it. Do it."
Sixteen months later, Abraham again was in police custody, arrested at the Pontiac gas station with 254 Ecstasy pills in a bag in his trunk.
After the arrest, Moore said in a statement that he was "very disappointed and particularly sad for the hundreds of people who worked hard to rehabilitate him for the nine years he was in the state training school and the wonderful mentors and volunteers and churches that stood by him."

Adult or juvenile charges?

senior staff writer
Cole Drake, the 14-year-old Manhattan High student charged with first-degree murder and aggravated robbery in the death of fellow student Tyler Dowling, will now wait until the end of September to learn if he will be tried as an adult in the case.
In the first of what is expected to be a number of court hearings to come, Riley County attorney Barry Wilkerson made a motion to have Drake tried as an adult. Judge David Stutzman scheduled a two-day certification hearing for Sept. 22 and 23. Evidence from both the prosecution and defense is expected to be presented.
Dowling's body was found in a field behind Eisenhower Middle School on April 13. A family member and some news reports allege Dowling was shot, but police will not confirm any details about the death.
The case has captivated the town which caused what Riley County Police Department director Brad Schoen called a "gossip fest." At a recent Riley County Commission meeting he urged residents to assist the investigation and stop talking about the case or spreading information through social media sites.
Drake's next hearing date to address other motions made is Aug. 8. He is being held in the North Central Kansas Regional Juvenile Detention Facility in Geary County.

Paramus juvenile charged with stabbing man

A 17-year-old Paramus juvenile was arrested Sept. 27 for allegedly stabbing his mother's former boyfriend in the neck when the man entered his home.
On Sept. 26 at 6:14 p.m., Paramus Police responded to a home on Edstan Way in reference to a call from the juvenile, according to Chief Christopher Brock. The juvenile reported that a man had attempted to "break into my house," and after a scuffle he stabbed the man with a knife, which was recovered at the scene. When police arrived, they found the man lying unconscious on the floor of the house and bleeding from multiple wounds to his neck and abdomen.
The man had been asked by the teenager to leave but refused, Brock said. A struggle then ensued, and the juvenile stated that the man put him in a headlock and that he stabbed the man in an effort to defend himself.
The man formerly had a dating relationship with the juvenile's mother, who was not home at the time of the incident, according to Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli.
Aid was rendered and the victim was transported to Hackensack University Medical Center for treatment. He underwent surgery and currently remains in critical condition, according to Molinelli.
The teenager was charged with aggravated assault and possession of a weapon (knife) for an unlawful purpose, both as a juvenile. He was released into the custody of his mother.
The arrest was the result of a joint investigation between the Paramus Police Department and Bergen County Prosecutor's Office Major Crime Unit, Molinelli said.
-Bryan Wassel

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  Aaalogo The Truth About Youth
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Our mission is to place a national spotlight upon the nations approach to juvenile justice, and to place faces and stories to the children that were waived, and thereby, held to an adult standard in the courtroom and then sent to adult prisons. Our mission is to end the practice of sentencing children to life without the possibility of parole, and to reduce the harm caused to children in adult prisons by supporting legislation that will make those who were sentenced as children eligible to have their sentences reviewed at some point during their incarceration. Advocates for Abandoned Adolescent's mission is to introduce concerned citizens to effective ways in which they can contribute to enhancing the quality of juvenile justice, to create chapters of A.A.A. in every state coast to coast. To organize and coordinate a national synchronized protest on all fifty state capitals on the same day, at the same moment and unified under the A.A.A. banner. Advocates for Abandoned Adolescents - Our Mission is to do better!


(Ed. note: In November, 2010, the Michigan ACLU filed a lawsuit, Hill et. al. v. Granholm, on behalf of nine of Michigan’s more than 350 “juvenile lifers,” who were sentenced to life without parole before their 18th birthdays.  

The lawsuit charges that a Michigan sentencing scheme that denies the now-adult plaintiffs an opportunity for parole and a fair hearing to demonstrate their growth, maturity and rehabilitation constitutes cruel and unusual punishment and violates their constitutional rights,” said the ACLU.
The ACLU’s complete release and links to the lawsuit and the Second Chance website which supports an end to the policy of sentencing juveniles to die in prison, are at http://voiceofdetroit.net/?p=2669. 
A review of federal court filings shows that the defendants, now Gov. Rick Snyder, Richard McKeon, Interim Director of the Michigan Department of Corrections,  and Barbara Sampson, chair of the Michigan Parole Board, filed a “motion to dismiss, or alternatively a motion for summary judgment” on Feb. 28. The motion primarily raises legal technicalities regarding time limits. 
A  motion hearing has been set for April 21 at 2:15 p.m. before U.S. District Judge John Corbett O’Meara, in the federal building on W. Lafayette.) 

Dante D. Collingham
Article below is by Dante. D. Cottingham #259241, Voice of Juvenile Defendants 
As most of you already know, I’ve been in Prison for nearly 16 years now. I was incarcerated when I was a teenager and next month, February 20th, I’ll be 33 yrs old. I literally was forced to grow from a child to an adult in prison, a process that was long, cold and difficult, but yet a process that taught me a couple very important things.
Some of the most powerful things that I read in the sentences that detail my history is the fact that a child has absolutely NO place in an adult prison, I see that a child has absolutely NO place within an adult court room, I see the fact Judges and Lawyers, Parents and Politicians were/are smart enough to do better for the most vulnerable sector of our society. Smart enough to adjudicate its children in a more responsible way that is directly connected to the spirit of rehabilitation that values a child’s potential, and that respects cutting edge science. World history is saturated with stories where societies’ sophistication was far more advanced than societies’ Laws and Policies, that is, until a group of people, like Dr. Martin Luther King and the SNCC, adopted an issue and proactively pursued progressive transformations.

Davontae Sanford of Detroit was 14 when he was convicted of four murders to which a professional hit man has confessed, but Prosecutor Kym Worthy will not withdraw charges against him
Well today, in our era, that issue is a Juvenile Justice Issue. It’s time for the responsible adults of our era to prevent our children being waived into the adult system and being discarded into adult prisons. There are thousands upon thousands of adolescents in adult court rooms and prisons all across the U.S. but it can be stopped with your help, by adopting this issue we can take children from the grips of adult prisons, and place them on the path that leads to their maximal development.
I implore you to go to the Volunteer page and see how you can help.
Thank you for your time and attention and I look forward to working with you.
Dante. D. Cottingham #259241

[In one of my most significant dreams, I shed my human Characteristics, I take the form of a light, a bright mobile soaring light, that is, I take the form of my soul...unadulterated.
I am hovering in what must be a part of space, for the darkness is absolute, and I am instinctively and patiently waiting, for what? I am unsure. Then instantly lights resembling my own start to appear, thousands and thousands at first but by the time they stop coming there is no question that hundreds of millions of lights are before me, hundreds of millions of souls are before me as if we are in an infinite stadium in the sky, enclosed by four walls of darkness, it looks as if I am on a podium in front of millions of stars.

Jennifer Pruitt was a 16-yr.-old runaway when an older woman companion killed a man.
……We are in grave danger of Losing the hearts and minds and souls of our sons and daughters, to the maleficent appendages of our societies. There exists in countries world-wide, from the poorest to the richest, governmental policies and societal influences that are not conducive to our children’s’ maximal development.
Their eagerness to hear me speak to them is unmistakable! It becomes beautifully apparent that I am about to articulate my soul’s essence to the souls of the world’s adult population. So through the utilisation of thought I speak to them, I speak to them about our most precious possessions, our world’s most significant and vital resource, I speak to them about the only vehicle that can be used to navigate the course which leads to world peace, I speak to them about our children, I say to them……..]

Nathaniel Abraham tried in adult court at 11, was sentenced as a juvenile but subjected to media persecution when released, which deprived him of a chance at a career, home, and education; he is now back in prison.
For example……currently in the United States there are two systems for processing Individuals who commit crimes: The Criminal Justice system for adults and the Juvenile Justice System for children. Not long ago these systems differed significantly in virtually all respects, including their principles, procedures and dispositions. While punishment for adults was premised on retribution and deterrence, children were generally subject to diversion or short term legal restraint which in theory emphasised rehabilitation.
However between the 1960′s and present day, the Juvenile system’s philosophy and structure has come to closely imitate the Adult system. Legislatures have narrowed Juvenile Court Jurisdiction, nudged what is left of that Jurisdiction towards a punishment orientation that often downplays treatment and Indeed imposes adult criminal procedures and determinate sentences. Children are being transferred to adult systems far too early and far too often, something that must be reserved for the truly unnameable to treatment, which is a very narrow category for people.
For children are less responsible for their actions because of cognitive and volitional developmental deficiencies and thus should receive special treatment. I mean, the moral and decision making capacities of children between seven and eighteen are inferior, and this inferiority should, must be recognised through treatment in a separate system. Children as a class are not psychologically developed in legally relevant ways, and since it is worldly and humanly possible to reconstruct these governmental policies that advocate discarding its children into garbage receptacle called adult prisons, we must dutifully make that our goal.

Damion Todd of Detroit, 16 when sent to prison
[The light that is my soul glides from before them, I glide amongst them for I desire to see how it feels to be so close to so many souls, but more importantly I want all these souls' to feel the intensity of my light, my energy. When I am intimately amongst them I acknowledge that there are no skin colours, no religions, no cultures, no social classes to separate us. There's a deep natural feeling of unification within the energy that connects every soul in attendance. I continue........]

……….. Since it is humanly, worldly possible to eradicate the feeling of hunger from within the belly of every starving child, to render the famine obsolete, we must dutifully make this our goal, Since it is humanly, worldly possible to eradicate the Juvenile delinquency problem all over the world by focusing on the problem, making it a high priority and relentlessly pursuing the answers, we must dutifully make this our goal.
Since it is humanly, worldly possible to utilise pro-action in each and every one of our communities in the form of being mentors, sports coaches and referees, fighting against the detrimental laws and policies, donating to reputable and effective organisations, we must dutifully make that our goal.

Henry Hill of Saginaw, sentenced at 16
[I soar through the millions of souls until I am hovering directly in the middle of them all, their attention following me intently, then i say with earnest conviction......]

Our every goal is possible to achieve only if we recognise, accept and embrace our natural occupations as Ambassadors, as Diplomatic Officers with the highest rank appointed and accredited as representatives of every child on the face of our earth, Advocating the proliferation of world-wide systems being implemented in Countries everywhere that are designed to ensure our kids reach their maximal development, for that is the only way that future generations have a chance to experience world peace.
 I was a Juvenile defendant, as a teenager I received a Life sentence, and to date, I have been Incarcerated fourteen years and five months. However hindsight informs me that under the proper circumstances, with the proper system my mind could have been fundamentally led away from providing the United States with the Opportunity to exploit my cognitive and volitional developmental tendencies, my childlike disposition. So I am intimately positive, despite the debate,that virtually all children will respond most effectively to rehabilitative efforts as opposed to retributive. 

Bobby Hines of Detroit, sentenced at 15
[As you were reading this article your physical body was seated stationary in front of your computer, but your soul was with me soaring around that infinite stadium. Goodbye until the next time I summon your Soul!...]
 I thank you for your time and attention…..
Dant’e Cottingham.

ACLU Lawsuit Challenges Life Without Parole For Michigan Juveniles

Locking Up Children Without Possibility For Release Is Unconstitutional, Says ACLU
ACLU Release Nov. 17, 2010 
Henry Hill of Saginaw was 16 when sentenced to LWOP for first-degree murder for “aiding and abetting”a killing by firing his gun into the air. Now 45, he has legal research and cooking certificates, and is lead cook.
Bosie Smith-El of Ypsilanti was sentenced in 1992 for murder although he claimed self-defense due to his small stature. He has earned numerous vocational certifications.
DETROIT, MI – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Michigan today filed a lawsuit on behalf of nine Michigan citizens who were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for crimes committed when they were minors. The lawsuit charges that a Michigan sentencing scheme that denies the now-adult plaintiffs an opportunity for parole and a fair hearing to demonstrate their growth, maturity and rehabilitation constitutes cruel and unusual punishment and violates their constitutional rights.
Bobby Hines of Detroit was 15 in 1989 when sentenced for felony murder although he was not the shooter. He had earned good grades, and has since earned his GED and vocational certificates in prison.
Jennifer Pruitt was a runaway at 16 when an older woman companion killed a man during robbery.
“These life without parole sentences ignore the very real differences between children and adults, abandoning the concepts of redemption and second chances,” said Deborah Labelle, attorney for the ACLU of Michigan’s Juvenile Life Without Parole Initiative. “As a society, we believe children do not have the capacity to handle adult responsibilities, so we don’t allow them to use alcohol, join the Army, serve on a jury or vote – yet we sentence them to the harshest punishment we have in this state – to die in adult prisons.”
Keith Maxey was 16 when he was shot four times during a drug house robbery in which a man was killed. He had no previous record.
Damion Todd of Detroit went to prison as a result of a teenage gun fight in which he and his friends were fired upon by another group. He was captain of his football team and active in his church.
Michigan law requires that children as young as 14 who are charged with certain felonies be tried as adults and, if convicted, sentenced without judicial discretion to life without parole. Judges and juries are not allowed to take into account the fact that children bear less responsibility for their actions and have a greater capacity for change, growth and rehabilitation than adults.
The U.S. is the only country in the world that sentences youth to life without parole, and Michigan incarcerates the second highest number of people serving life sentences without parole for crimes committed when they were 17 years old or younger. Currently, there are 350 individuals serving such mandatory life sentences in Michigan. This includes more than 100 individuals who were sentenced to life without parole who were present or committed a felony when a homicide was committed by someone else.
Kevin Boyd was 16 when he gave his mother his father’s house keys. His mother killed his father. Boyd mentors other youths in prison, along with writing and playing music.
Jamal Tipton was 17 in 1987 when he participated in a robbery with two adults that resulted in the death of the victim. He has obtained his GED and currently works as an electrician, and mentors younger prisoners.
“Sentencing children to spend the rest of their lives in prison without giving them some opportunity for parole is unfair, unconstitutional and un-American, and it completely ignores the human potential – especially in children – for rehabilitation,” said Steven Watt, staff attorney with the ACLU Human Rights Program. “In America, we should not be locking children up and throwing away the key without affording them a second chance.”
The ACLU’s complaint asks the court to declare that denying children a meaningful opportunity for parole violates the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment and Fourteenth Amendment right to due process. It also alleges violations of the plaintiffs’ rights under international law and treaties.
Matthew Bentley was 14 in 1998 when he killed a man during a B & E. If he had committed the crime two years earlier, he would have been sentenced to rehabilitative incarceration as a juvenile.
Michigan’s laws run afoul of the U.S. Supreme Court’s admonitions that children must be treated differently in our criminal justice system. In May, the Court ruled in Graham v. Florida that it is cruel and unusual punishment to sentence juvenile offenders who did not commit homicide to life in prison without any chance of parole. In 2005, the Court ruled similarly in Roper v. Simmons that executing juvenile offenders is unconstitutional. Both decisions recognized that juveniles bear less responsibility for their actions than adults and have a greater capacity for change, growth and rehabilitation, and that children should not be punished with the harshest sentence that can be imposed on adults.
Last year, the Michigan House Judiciary Committee held hearings to address a package of bills (HB 4518, 4594, 4595 and 4596) that would prohibit the mandatory sentencing of juveniles to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In 2008, a previous package of bills passed the State House, but stalled in the State Senate. The ACLU of Michigan has worked with legislators to repeal these harsh sentences since 2003.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against Jennifer Granholm, Governor of Michigan, Patricia Caruso, Director of the Michigan Department of Corrections and Barbara Sampson, Chair of the Michigan Parole Board. In addition to LaBelle and Watt, the plaintiffs are represented by Vanita Gupta, Robin Dahlberg, Dennis Parker and Jay Rorty of the national ACLU, Michael J. Steinberg, Dan Korobkin and Kary L. Moss of the ACLU of Michigan and Ronald Reosti.

Kym Worthy asks City Council for funds for county crime lab in 2009; current Council granted over $1.2 million
Ed. note: The complaint reads in part “Plaintiffs seek a declaration that Michigan laws, policies and practices, including M.C.L 791.234, insofar as it excludes Plaintiffs from the jurisdiction of the Michigan Parole Board and thereby denies them a meaningful opportunity for release, violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and customary international law.
  Plaintiffs do not challenge their judgments of conviction and do not seek to invalidate their life sentences; rather Plaintiffs seek orders that the Michigan Department of Corrections afford them, as persons sentenced to life imprisonment for offenses committed before they were eighteen years old, a meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on their demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.”

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy testified against bills that would have outlawed the practice of sentencing juveniles to die in prison, during House legislative committee sessions. She had her assistant prosecutors play the video of three teens beating a man to death in a Coney Island, as if that typified youths in Detroit.
Davontae Sanford's mother and family rally for his release June 29
She is currently fighting attempts by Davontae Sanford, who was 14 when he was coerced into confessing to killing four people in a drug house, to overturn his guilty plea. Another prisoner, Vincent Smothers, has confessed to the killings, and Detroit’s retired chief of homicide William Rice has testified that Davontae was with him, not at the site of the crime, when the killings occurred.
Read the ACLU complaint in Hill et al. v. Granholm here.  
Read profiles of clients here.
Read “Second Chances,” a publication of the ACLU of Michigan highlighting the issue of JLWOP here.

12-year-old boy jailed for 30 years

Paul Henry Gingerich is serving a prison sentence for the shooting that killed a friend’s step-father. Even though he didn’t pull the trigger — or know that he was going to be a part of the murder plot — Gingerich was sentenced to 30 years in jail.
By the time he sees the light of the outside world again, he’ll have come a long way since sixth grade.
In Indiana, a 12 year old like Paul can be tried as an adult if the court finds it is in the best interest of society. His attorney, Monica Foster, tells RT that the controversy surrounding the case has led to unjust circumstances for a child that doesn’t deserve this punishment.
Since he was tried as an adult, a judge originally ordered Paul to serve time in a prison for one. That decision has since been changed, and for the time being the boy is behind bars at a juvenile facility. Even still, he is forced to live alongside hardened criminals, some nearly double his age that have been sentenced for horrible sexual assaults.
According to Foster and a slew of supporters, Gingerich doesn’t belong there.His lawyer describes the youngster as someone with no prior incidents, and that the worst thing they could say about him at his hearing was that “he sometimes didn’t do his homework and he sometimes talked in class.”
“This is truly, truly a little boy,” adds Foster. “When I went to see him the first time in the prison, it was shocking to me how much of a little boy he is.”
And though the courts are treating him like a man, Foster says the punishment is doing nothing to help him or his family overcome the crime. “When we send [children] through the adult prison system, we are basically saying that there is no help for you,” she says. “In America, we ought not to have that idea that it’s okay to flush a 12-year-old child’s life down the drain like that.”
”I think that if we want to create a productive member of society we need to treat a kid like him in a juvenile system and not just flush him away and say that there’s no hope for him,” Foster adds.
“It’s just madness; it’s just crazy,” she says.
Foster notes that the boy’s original attorney had practically no time to put together a defense case and says that there was no way anyone could be prepared for a trial like this one. Now family and supporters are urging others to help make it possible so that his sentence can be overruled.

If I Get Out Alive - Children Sentenced to Adult Prison - Press Play to Listen

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